[Tfug] OT: Concept of zero

Rich r-lists at studiosprocket.com
Thu May 10 17:16:23 MST 2007

On May 10, 2007, at 4:07 pm, Jude Nelson wrote:

> There is archaeological evidence to suggest that the Maya or an  
> offshoot of them may have extended north into the US...not sure if  
> they brought the concept of zero with them, however.


"Since the eight earliest Long Count dates [which required the use of  
zero] appear outside the Maya homeland, it is assumed that the use of  
zero in the Americas predated the Maya and was possibly the invention  
of the Olmecs."

Other WP articles suggest that evidence for the Maya possessing the  
concept of zero is 500 years older than Old World evidence, the  
oldest of which dates from 200 BCE.

So to answer Stephen's question scholastically, no.

Personally though, I'd be surprised if the concept of "no animals  
worth hunting"---i.e. a practical, arithmetic zero---didn't exist  
several thousand years before that.

As for post-Mayan migration into areas of North America north of  
Mexico, I'd also be surprised to find that the concept of zero had  
been lost in spoken language.

The problem you're going to have is that only written language was  
recorded, and there wasn't the leisure in post-collapse centuries to  
develop or preserve writing systems. This is infuriating, because the  
history is tantalizingly close. A crisis will always hit information  
the hardest, because it's the least valuable thing we have when it  
comes to staying alive.

Let us know what you get from the library!


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